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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Checking off my to-do list

Checking+off+my+to-do+list

By: Katie Sanders, Editor-in-chief

The holiday season is the height of American consumerism, even for college students on a tight budget. Whether you’re spending your own money or using your mom’s credit card to purchase gifts for your other family members (guilty), there are ways to be a conscientious consumer and perhaps even give back through your purchases. The phrases “ethical” and “fair trade” are thrown around a lot these days in regards to certain companies and products, but what do they mean?

Ethical shopping encompasses companies whose products are fair trade, organic or cruelty free to animals. Fair trade is a title awarded certain companies and businesses that do not take advantage of international, disadvantaged producers, most notably in the form of fair wages but also in the forms of good working conditions, no discrimination, no child labor or other forced labor and respect for the environment.

There are several agencies that give out official fair trade certifications. These agencies are able to send people to the international places where all the magic happens to inspect operations at all levels of production because consumers themselves cannot feasibly do this for every company or business they may be interested in. Some of the more prominent certifiers include Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance. However, there have been cases where certified businesses have not lived up to the standards their certifier agency claimed, so if you are interested in a particular company, business or product, it’s worth doing a little more research to double-check.

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Most certification agencies have lists on their websites of the businesses and products they have given the OK. Some recognizable names include Starbucks Coffee Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Gap Inc., Patagonia Inc., Pottery Barn, REI and Adidas.

Another facet of conscientious consumption is choosing to buy from small, local businesses or choosing companies who exist to empower disadvantaged labor demographics. Raven + Lilly is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand that seeks to alleviate poverty among women across the globe. According to their website, they “currently employ over 1,500 marginalized women at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education, and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.”

Raven + Lilly employs women in nine different countries: Ethiopia, India, Cambodia, Kenya, the U.S., Guatemala, Pakistan, Malaysia and Haiti. They sell clothing, jewelry, leather bags and home décor. You can search their website by country if you’re looking to buy something from one in particular. Other brands like this one include FashionABLE, Noonday Collection and Ten Thousand Villages.

Those are more geared towards females, but if you’re buying for a male, check out Everlane. Everlane sells men’s and women’s clothing and their motto is radical transparency. For each and every product on their site, they show you why it costs what it does and compare their markup to the markup of other retailers. WeWOOD sells wooden watches and sunglasses and plants a tree for every product sold. Oliberté also sells men’s products, including leather bags and shoes.

In respect to buying local, the most local place a Wofford student could buy from is a fellow Wofford Student! Senior Laura Roddey and her brother have their own food seasoning brand that can be purchased at the Hub City Co-op downtown, sophomore Will Randall’s Tied & True Bowties can be purchased through its page on Etsy and senior Mitchell Saum’s Swell sunglasses and watches can be purchased at swellvision.com. Contact the Space at Wofford College for even more student and alumni businesses to support.

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